Airlines

Update on 2014 Elite Status Strategy

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Last year I foolishly was going for status on three airlines. Since none of my travel is for work, this year I focused on keeping status with companies I fly/stay the most:

US Airways: Requalified for Chairman, going for 125K
I hit Chairman status with US Airways early this fall, thanks largely to my In N Out Burger run, Dublin, western Ireland, and Vienna trips in the first 3 months of the year. I wasn’t planning on any more mileage runs, but when I realized that I would come 4,000 miles short of 125,000 miles which would get me free US Airways Club Lounge Membership and the ability to gift someone Gold Status, I decided to make one last trip later this month.Keri US Airways special dividend progress

Hyatt: A few nights shy of Diamond Status (but I’ll get there!)
Whether to keep Hyatt Diamond status is always a careful consideration each year. Hyatt Regency DFW Dallas Airport Diamond AmenityBecause all my trips are for leisure and because there are fewer options than other hotel chains it’s always a bit of a push to hit the necessary 25 stays or 50 nights. But doing the calculations on how much status saves me throughout the year, usually justifies having to make mattress runs for 5-6 of the necessary stays.

Starwood: Downgrading from 50 night Platinum to regular Platinum
Last year I did a bunch of award nights at Category 1 (2,000 points a night) properties to hit 50 nights and earn 10 free Suite Nights. For various reasons (including winning the Starwood auction which got me a suite), I’ve only been able to use 4 of those nights. Since I’m only a few stays away from the 25 stay requirement to keep Platinum, but barely halfway there to hit 50 nights, I’ll be content with basic Platinum status.

National Car Rental: Downgrading from Executive Elite to Executive — I snagged top status with a match from my expiring Avis President’s Club, but haven’t rented enough from them to requalify for Executive Elite. Fortunately my American Express Platinum Card comes with Executive status and I honestly haven’t noticed much difference among the offerings.

Easy to Keep

Giving Up

  • United Airlines Silver Status — I only flew them once this year and without business travel will find it hard to meet any spend requirements for status.
  • American Airlines Gold Status — I’m already getting reciprocal benefits from my US Airways status and by the second quarter the two programs will merge anyway.
  •  Marriott Silver Status — I got Gold status two years ago from my United 1K status and got a soft landing this year to Silver. I’ve stayed at 2 Marriotts in the past year, so not worth pursuing.
  • IHG Gold Elite Status — 3 years ago I was an Intercontinental Royal Ambassador and have been getting soft landings through this year when I hit their lowest elite tier. If I wind up booking a bunch of Intercontinental/IHG stays for the coming year, I can always pay the $200 for Ambassador status and immediately have Platinum Elite status as well.

How did you fare this year for elite status and what is your strategy for 2015?

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9 Comments

  1. Henry K

    December 11, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    Your strategy for US Air certainly makes good sense as it is always wise to focus attention on one domestic airline and the AA partnership at least for 2015 is better than United and Delta. I will be United 1K again but will look at options past 2016 if AA does not copy the anti-loyalty Delta (and United copy cat) model.

    Hyatt Diamond is obviously the only option as their platinum tier is the worst when compared to Hilton, Marriott and even SPG. I just don’t want to stay at Hyatts to reach 25 nights because the other hotel chains provide better amenities such as free breakfast and internet and unless you are staying nearby major international cities, there are too few Hyatt hotels to choose. So I will hit the 75 mark with SPG as I like the 24 option of arriving at a Starwood hotel when I land internationally and not having to wait for the room to be ready. I will keep Hilton and Marriott Gold as standbys as their airport hotels tend to be convenient.

    Not sure about how you can make Platinum Status on IHG by just paying the $200 upgrade for Ambassador. Do you mean if you have the IHG Chase card that you pay an annual fee for platinum status?

    Thanks for the end of year report.

    • Keri Anderson

      December 11, 2014 at 4:38 pm

      One of the cool things about Intercontinental Ambassador status is it translates to the other IHG properties as their top status, Platinum elite. 🙂 Very jealous of your 75 night Plat status at Starwood. Would love to have it but can’t quite hit that many stays.

      • DavidB

        December 11, 2014 at 10:47 pm

        IHG Ambassador comes with Gold status in the Rewards program not Platinum, and while many non-IC branded properties confuse Ambassador with the top tier of the Rewards program out of ignorance, that’s not the case. If one doesn’t qualify for Platinum Rewards status through stays or points, but is an Ambassador, the Platinum status will remain until the Ambassador “year” is over, but if renewed the Rewards status will drop down to Gold. (Unless, of course, one also has an IHG credit card which gives Platinum Rewards status.) Yes, confusing to say the least. (But Royal Ambassadors will always be Platinum Rewards elites, since the requirement for RA exceeds the minimum nights required for Platinum status, and referral status is no longer given.)

        • Keri Anderson

          December 12, 2014 at 1:37 am

          Thank you! That’s really good to know, apparently I got lucky and they glitched and gave me Plat status for an extra year

  2. cnmaz

    December 11, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    I had no idea your travel was not related to work. Both myself and my husband are Chairman on US Airways for our leisure travel as well. Status has a different meaning to you when you achieve it without work covering some of the expense. I am not sure how many top status tier leisure travelers are out there while also working full time.

    • Keri Anderson

      December 11, 2014 at 7:40 pm

      Yay! It’s nice to know I’m not alone!

  3. Rich Ventura

    December 14, 2014 at 7:31 am

    Renewed and met my goals for 2014:

    Diamond again with Delta
    Platinum again with Starwood
    Platinum Ambassador with IHG
    Silver with US Airways
    Avis First

  4. Boraxo

    December 19, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    How do you get 25 stays @ Starwood and Hyatt?? That’s roughly 4 stays a month at each chain. I can’t hit those numbers even with business travel.

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      December 19, 2014 at 9:32 pm

      Not speaking for Keri, but last year, I added up my work travel and I had spent 1/6 of my year in a Hyatt!

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